We are all hearing about the Metaverse so what is it and is it really so exciting?
The metaverse is a network of 3D virtual environments or worlds, designed to give us more fulfilling and immersive visual social connections online. It has been made possible with virtual and augmented reality headsets thar immerse the user in a virtual universe with endless possibilities.
For those of us who embraced SecondLife when it launched back in 2003, we are wondering what will be so different. SecondLife offered users the opportunity to create their own avatar(s) and create new personas where they could move around different sims (regions) to socialise, chat, roleplay and interact.A sim or simulator was the term used by Linden Labs the creators, for the software that supported each region within SecondLife. Each sim would run a 256m x 256sqm area controlling the land, avatars, objects and features available.
I remember researching SecondLife back in its early days for a work project and becoming hooked on it. SecondLife offered its users a visual environment where they could hang out online with other people from all over the world. Users could create their own avatar, homes and dream up their own world. You could teleport into the different regions, look round and meet new people. At the time it felt exciting, creative and was far more engaging then watching tv.
SecondLife even had its own currency called the Liden Dollar which you could earn and spend there. You could buy anything from avatars, clothes, building, cars and animations to language translators as well as being able to rent your own region. They had shopping malls, fashion shows, seaside towns, steampunk villages, beach resorts and even tropical rain forests. There were even regions created purely for role play such as Kingdom of Sands where your avatar took on a character in a land where knights fought demons, vampires and pirates. Others created nightclubs and streamed their own music. Anything was possible.
Some of the features and graphics seemed really ground-breaking at the time. I loved the text translators that enabled you to speak with other avatars in any language. I made friends with people in Russia, America, Italy and Spain and could spend hours just chatting, building, and looking round. I even built a holiday island and rented out apartments as a means of earning Linden Dollars.
Technology has changed so much in the 18 years since SecondLife launched. It still has a following although I have not visited it for over a decade. It undoubtedly gave inspiration for some of the social sites and community-based platforms that followed and clearly illustrates the huge potential there is for the Metaverse whilst also highlighting some of the more difficult issues it may have to overcome.
I am excited to watch the Metaverse unfold and a little curious to revisit SecondLife now.